Friday, 21 May 2010


We now have the full details of the coalition government and what it hopes to deliver. As a Lib Dem I am really proud to see some of our key policies lined up to be delivered in government. I believe that the compromises that have been made on both sides are sensible and pragmatic. It looks to me that the needs of people have been put ahead of rivalry and tribalism. One of the key things for me is the transfer of power from central to local level. Coupled with the work Nick Clegg will be doing on reforming our politics, I hope we can get to the point where people feel they can have real influence and affect change in their local area. I hope too that trust can be restored in politics, an it is once again seen as something that can deliver for the common good. There will be testing times ahead for the coalition partners, but I know from talking to colleagues that Liberal Democrats are approaching the future with optimism, and a determination to make Britain a fairer, greener and better place to live!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Break Over

After the count last week I took a week out to recuperate and to spend some time with the family. So we have had the results nationally and of course in Spelthorne. Locally I am pleased with the result, certainly in when taken in context of the national results. We had a big swing to us from the Conservatives, and saw Labour drop to a poor third. We are the challengers here on the borough council, county council, and now in the General Election. We increased our vote by more than 60%, and were a fraction away from our best ever result in the constituency. All that said, I did believe we would do even better than that. We are going to redouble our efforts to improve from here. Next up is the borough elections next year, so there is no time to rest on our laurels. I must thank all the people who voted for us in the election and all the people who delivered leaflets, canvassed and sat at polling stations. My agent was an absolute legend, and without his calming influence and well organised work, it would have been a tough job. As it was I had a great time over the last two years. Now we move forward to the next elections, in coalition nationally, but working hard locally to spread our distinct message and looking forward to increasing our seats on Spelthorne next year!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Over To You

The campaigns have been run, the arguments have been aired and the battle buses have toured the country. Tomorrow it's over to the people of Britain to vote. This election has been fascinating, surprising and conducted at a heck of a pace. It seemed to go into overdrive after the first leaders' debate on ITV. In 36 hours most candidates will know their fate. I have enjoyed the last two years campaigning across Spelthorne, and I've got to know a lot of people over that time. Tomorrow, I hope local people will vote Lib Dem, for fairer taxes, a better start for our children, a sustainable economy and to fix our broken politics. I really want to see these fundamental things delivered by the new Parliament. We cannot expect the people of this country to back difficult choices unless we give them fundamental reforms that bring fairness to our society.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Vince Cable Visits Spelthorne

Yesterday our campaign got the support of Vince Cable, who came to Sunbury to talk to voters. Local people were very surprised to find him on their doorstep, and we got a fantastic response. With a small army of Lib Dems knocking on doors asking people what they thought they would do when they reached the ballot box on Thursday, many people are now supporting us, on top of the many voters who have already supported us over the last few years. Vince was impressed with the momentum we have built up here, and he recognised that we have excellent prospects at this election in Spelthorne. The sight of us all marching down the road caused quite a stir, including Sarah pushing our daughter Evie down the road complete with golden rosette! Everyone had a great time, and the response of local people confirmed that more and more people are switching to us at this election.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Kempton Park Hustings

Last night we had our second hustings event in Spelthorne. Unlike the previous one we had six candidates on the platform. We still got through a range of questions, including a sharp question on energy security, and also one on the banks. Apart from one or two rumbles of discontent from the independents when they didn't get a chance to answer a question, it was another good natured evening, and I answered the questions in a straightforward and honest way. Now that the two events are done, we now need to sprint to the finish on Thursday, and the activity out on the streets is going to be frenetic. I want to get across the whole borough one more time between now and Thursday, and hope to meet many more people before they cast their votes.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hustings Part Two

Well, as I said last night, we had a great hustings meeting in Staines last night. There was an excellent turnout, and a broad range of questions. We were asked about everything from Education, to Trident, Government support for Faith Groups, and Immigration. We were well tested on our respective parties policies, and also on issues that are traditionally left to individual MPs to make personal decisions on. The audience were keen to hold us to account, and talking to many people afterwards, they said it had been helpful for them to hear us live, and it would inform their voting intentions considerably. Facing a large audience is a good test of a prospective MPs mettle. It is amazing how quickly the microphone seems to reach you as you gather your thoughts (very quickly!) to give your answer. When a question comes out of left field, suddenly even the keenest of candidates looks at the mic as if it was on fire! We have another hustings event tomorrow night at Kempton Park, and it will be interesting to see how that goes now we have heard each others answers to a lot of questions!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Hustings Part One

I have just got back from tonight's hustings meeting in Staines. I am going to get some shut eye so will not do a post on the whole thing tonight, but I can say that I had a really good time and the questions were excellent. The audience were great, and I can't wait till Friday in Sunbury!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sofa Politics

Tonight I was invited into a family home to discuss the election and answer some questions. It was almost a warm-up for tomorrow night's hustings in Staines! I was asked about the economy, environment (including Runway Three), hung parliaments and schools. They had clearly discussed all these at great length among themselves, and grabbed the opportunity to get a candidate in the flesh to elaborate on their policies. It is a feature of this election that the majority of people really are engaged in it, and want to know what we all stand for. They have strong opinions that they want to share, and are taking a lot of care exploring what the parties have to offer. I am very hopeful that there will be a better turnout than in 2005, which I would have thought scarcely possible 12 months ago. In case you're wondering, I was assured I had the support of all the family on May 6th. If only I could get to every living room in Spelthorne!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Ransom Demand

Today the country heard a ransom demand. It was badly disguised as a plea for help, but it was a ransom none the less. David Cameron told voters to 'vote for him or else'. All other options are doom and destruction apparently. But what he believes would be acceptable is a Conservative party that would cut taxes only for the rich, fail to reform the banking system, leave the broken political system unchanged and threaten the recovery with big cuts this year. A vote for them is not change. It is a vote for the same old party that is even now being told by their own leader of Kent County Council, the man running the biggest education authority in the country, that Tory education policy would see cuts for normal state schools. The change in this election is a vote for the Lib Dems. One of the questions YouGov asked in a poll last week was: "if you thought the Lib Dems could win, how would you vote?" The answer: 49% said Liberal Democrat. Funnily enough The Sun failed to use that figure in its editorial. The Lib Dems are winning in constituencies across the UK. There can be change, with a vote for us.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Today Nick Clegg spoke to Andrew Marr on the BBC. One of the inevitable subjects was about a hung Parliament and what the Lib Dem position would be. Quite rightly we have said it is for the British people to decide, not us. Nick has spoken before about working with whoever has the strongest mandate. The trouble is, we have a voting system so unfair, that it is possible for Labour to get less votes than either us or the Tories, but still end up with the most seats. This is clearly madness, and utterly undemocratic. Even senior Labour figures have had the good grace to look embarrased by this. But sadly, both of the two old parties, the Tories and Labour, have perpetuated this ridiculous system. They both talk about reforming politics, but only want to tinker around the edges. Let's get a system that delivers a democratic result!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Policing Pledge

I have just signed up to the 'Real Policing Pledge'. This asks candidates to sign up to:

Commit to the office of constable as the bedrock of modern policing
Maintain the number of warranted police constables in England and Wales
Ensure that all constables are adequately trained to do their jobs
Commit to maintain an effective ratio of constables to support staff on community policing teams
Honour the PNB (Police Negotiating Board)

I think it is vital that we have an effective police force that feels that it gets support as well as criticism from politicians, so I am more than happy to back the pledge.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Get Out...

...and vote! Some people are already casting postal votes, others have just over 12 days to wait before they can cast their ballot. It's worth remembering that we have fought wars, vested interests, discrimination and ourselves over the right to self determination. Democracy was born thousands of years ago, and is still not perfectly modelled by any means, but it does give each of us a voice (unless you are insane, under 18, in prison, serving in the armed forces abroad or the Queen!) It seems to me that after falling turnout for the last few General Elections, something has fired people up about this election to get more people out to vote. A lot of those I have met locally who did not vote last time have said they will this year. Whilst some will not in the end, I think we will see more people casting a vote in 2010. There are certainly more candidates standing than ever before in any GE. Over 4000 people nationwide have put their money where their mouth is and been nominated. That too is good for democracy. All we need now is a fully elected second chamber, a fair proportional voting system, fixed term Parliaments, the right to sack corrupt MPs and caps on funding for political parties and we'll be sorted.....

Thursday, 22 April 2010

First Bell

Just a quick post on today's campaigning. The very first door I knocked on there was a man who was probably in his mid 70s. I asked him if he had any questions for me about the campaign, and he said no, he knew who he was voting for and it was the Lib Dems. I asked if this was a change in his usual vote and he said he had voted Tory all his life, but he felt they had let him down and he wanted change. I speculatively asked if he wanted a poster for his window. It's already up!

Ding Ding Round Two

So, the second debate has finished, and the spinmeisters are all talking up their man. Of the polls I have seen so far, 3 have given the verdict to Nick Clegg and one to Cameron. It was a closer affair tonight, but despite the backlash from some newspapers today, and the changed tactics of the other two leaders, Nick made his case again, based on policy and substance. It was an excellent performance, especially considering how much higher the stakes and the expectations. The polls over the next few days will give us more of a flavour of whether anything has changed after tonight, but I think the big change has already happened - people believe the Lib Dems can win. Now that the other two have failed to land a big blow on Nick tonight, I think that's how it will stay. We have a real chance across the UK now, and a real chance in Spelthorne.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Class Debate

I'm not talking about background, but about class sizes at schools. Today we focussed on our education policy. One of our four key pledges for the next Parliament is that we will invest an extra £2.5bn in schools through a Pupil Premium that will raise funding for the poorest pupils to private school levels. The money will be targeted at schools taking on children who need more help, but will benefit every child in every school. The cash can be used to cut class sizes and provide one-to-one tuition or catch-up classes, ensuring every child gets the individual attention they need. An average primary school could cut class sizes to 20. An average secondary school could see classes of just 16. We want to give children the best possible start, whatever their background or circumstances. Until we put this essential building block in place, we can't begin to tackle other issues in our society properly. That's why it is right at the top of our priority list. Shortwood Infant School has been threatened with closure for having small class sizes. We believe all schools should be like this.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Dear Mr Chapman

One of the things that is characterising this election is the electronic communication that candidates are getting. Pressure groups, campaigns, and charities are all geared up with online pledges and commitments they want candidates to make. They also invite their supporters to send an email via their website, and it routes the message by postcode to all the candidates they have details of. I can tell you that the amount that come through every day is staggering. Everything from Macmillan Cancer Care to CAMRA have set up this system, and it is a fascinating insight into what matters to people in Spelthorne. I am trying to reply to them all. I don't want to set up stock replies for recurring issues, so I have been emailing people individually. And yes it really is me sending them in person. At the time of writing this I have just over 100 outstanding emails. I hope you'll understand that as it's gone 11pm I won't get them all done tonight. Better get on with it then!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Subjected To Scrutiny

All day I have heard quotes from Labour and Tory politicians and spin doctors. It's the same in the Daily Mail and Telegraph. "Now the voters will be subjecting the Lib Dem manifesto to much more scrutiny...." I don't know whether to laugh or just be bemused. They all make it sound like somehow we have written a manifesto that we hoped no-one would look at. That it contains terrible secrets that mortal man could not comprehend. What it really contains are a comprehensive set of policies that have been well considered and fully costed. They are a blueprint for a fairer and free society. We detail how we would start to tackle the deficit, with a clarity the old parties have avoided. We have told the truth about where we would cut spending. We've set out what we believe we should invest more resources in, like smaller class sizes, and a tax cut for working families, paid for by the better off. We have set out proposals to reform our rotten politics for good. These are things we believe will change Britain for the better, and we are enormously proud of them. So, please, feel free to conduct the scrutiny that the other parties think you should:

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Eco Warriors

As the team was grabbing a spot of lunch yesterday, I went to Shepperton village hall to look at the County Council presentation on the proposed eco park at Charlton. They had the presentation boards up and helpful staff on hand to tell you more, but one thing was missing - detail. The ruling Tory group on the County Council had for years been pressing ahead with plans for an incinerator, in the teeth of Lib Dem opposition, and seemed certain to try and foist that inappropriate solution on Surrey residents regardless. The last minute u-turn came as a surprise to many, but what it has meant is that they are now dashing out proposals without the background information to support the plan. Air quality and transport are two key areas that they have yet to conduct a study on. The building plans themselves are 'conceptual'. In fact the whole thing still feels like if you read closely you will see the words Lambert & Butler somewhere. In the rush to avoid the costs of landfill taxes which go up heavily year on year, the council is having to run before it can walk with this proposal, which means the risk of bad decision making is high. It didn't need to be like this. I was promised yesterday that they will be back for another exhibition in the summer with a lot more detail, and I would urge everyone to go and take a view.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Out In The Sunshine

What a lovely, sunny day. Not a cloud (or a plane) in the sky. Birds were singing, flowers were blooming, and everyone had a smile and a wave for the people with yellow rosettes.... Well, not quite everyone, but it really was a fantastic day to go out talking to voters. Even as we made our way from road to road, we had shouts of support from two cyclists, a lady on a horse, a charity bag deliverer and a man in a car. On the doorsteps we got the same reaction. Former Tory and Labour supporters saying it was time for a change, and pledging their support. We gave out posters to many. The last few days have been extraordinary. Since the leaders debate we have had requests for posters and boards, new members, and the mood seems the same wherever you are in Spelthorne. We knew we already had momentum, and have had for a few years. Gains in seats on the borough and county council in elections in 2007 and 2009 showed us we had made huge strides forward. It feels like we are on the cusp of another one in the General Election.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Poll Shift

Tonight we have had the second poll showing a massive vote shift to the Lib Dems since last night's leaders debate. YouGov, who have been conducting daily polls, have Labour on just 28%, Lib Dems on 30% and the Tories on only 33%. It is the best poll result for us for a long time, and the worst for the Tories in at least as long. I know from speaking to colleagues across the region that the response has been the same - people asking for posters, joining the party, and showing their support. We are going to be taking the message across Spelthorne over the next three weeks. What seems to have happened is that people have been given a glimpse of what the alternative really is. The cycle of Labour and Tory can be broken. Vote Lib Dem.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Clegg Wins First Debate

Television and electoral history in the UK was made tonight as we finally got a leaders debate, with two more to come. The general wisdom was that Nick Clegg had the most to gain, and David Cameron the most to lose. And so it proved. Nick started slowly in my opinion with his opening statement, and that whole section was a little stilted for the three men. Once they all got into their stride, it warmed up nicely. Gordon Brown really needs to stop using a crowbar to get his rehearsed gags in as it looks horribly unnatural. Cameron and Clegg both did a better job of getting their theme across. Some signs of the rehearsals of all of them were evident in parts, and those rough edges should wear off in the next two debates. But tonight belonged to Nick. He grew in confidence, answered the questions most directly, and was able to distance himself from the covert overtures of Cameron, and the rather gushing wooing from Brown. There are still two more debates to go, and the trick is going to be how Nick evolves his style and message, as the other two will be ready if it's more of the same. Meantime, the rest of us can get back to talking to local voters and listening to what they want in Spelthorne.

Radio Shortwood

I'm glad BBC Radio Surrey are still following the save Shortwood Infant School campaign. They played clips from all 3 main candidates and spoke to one of the organisers of the campaign, which highlights that this has captured the imagination of the press, just like it has driven local people to act to save their much loved school. They edited what I said about the school itself and concentrated on the policy statement, but the message came across that I think this school must be saved. The commentary was about the politics and how that comes into these things at election time. It's great that they have that political support, but it's worth remembering that ultimately it is the drive, commitment and determination of local people, parents, staff and governors that has made this campaign such a high profile, positive call to keep the school open. They are amazing. I hope that the council now make the right decision and keep it open. Save Shortwood!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Today Nick Clegg launched our manifesto. Inside you will find the only fully costed and detailed manifesto of the General Election. Lib Dems have put together a programme for a fairer Britain, with less tax for the less well of, paid for by the better off. It commits us to investment in smaller classes for children, and it spells out how we would reform politics from top to bottom. We have been honest with the British people about how we would tackle the crippling deficit Gordon Brown has handed us. We have set out those things we think are priorities, and those which are not and we cannot afford in these difficult times for the public finances, like the hugely expensive replacement for Trident. We want a fairer Britain, built on a sustainable economy, where the banks are kept in check, and we invest in green technology. We have optimism for the future, and have a vision of a better Britain. We will deliver our promises.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Show Me The Money

I was astonished by the Tory manifesto launch today, and by the content. I'll move swiftly beyond the comparison between an old power station that generates no power and a Tory get the idea. What was bizarre was that they have remarkably little on the economy, and no clear idea of how they are going to pay for their promises. There's precious little on the debt our country has been saddled with by Labour, and ducks the issue of spending cuts and taxes. Surely they don't believe the public think that the fantasy land where everything will be OK in the end is real? I am optimistic about our future, but I think it is right to be honest about the tough journey we will have to take to get to a better future. The Tories think they can win an election without being straight with the British people. I don't believe the British people will take that idea very well at all.

Monday, 12 April 2010

And Another Thing....

Everyone was in a conversational mood tonight. Some people said they couldn't remember if they had ever had a politician knock on their door, and they were glad I had. They certainly had plenty to get off their collective chests. A lot of people are fired up in this election. Some are still steaming mad about the expenses scandal. Others are equally upset at the state of the economy. One thing that this has done is make them question their traditional allegiances. More than ever before I am getting Lib Dem policy repeated back to me as an example of why they are thinking of switching to us. One guy said he had never voted before, but wanted to finally get down the polling booth and had decided to vote Lib Dem. Today I think the economy was topic of choice followed by climate change. Each time is different, and the topics show only modest regard to the top media story of the day. Nobody mentioned Labour's manifesto launch. Big impact then.....

Legal Aid

Today we got the news that the three Labour MPs up in court for alleged abuses of the expenses system have applied for legal aid. And got it. All three of them. I can't really begin to describe how I feel about this ridiculous state of affairs, except to say that the world sometimes goes utterly mad. Oh, and they have no shame whatsoever.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Is It That Time Already?

Already we have reached the end of the first week proper of the campaign. We have been out in every part of Spelthorne, and have found support right across the constituency. On the national campaign trail, the Lib Dems have been getting better coverage now that the election has been called. This week I have had many positive comments from people about Nick Clegg. With the leaders' debates to come, there is a real sense that we will get a significant boost from these, as we did when Vince Cable appeared on the C4 Chancellors' debate. With our priorities like fairer taxes which raise the income tax threshold to £10,000 before you pay anything, smaller class sizes for primary schools and investment in pupils, a sustainable economy, and clearing up the political system from top to bottom, we have a distinct message. The full manifesto is out this week. One week in, and it feels like we have continued our momentum in Spelthorne from the last two local elections, where we made gains on the borough council and the county council. With the Labour vote collapsed locally, we are enjoying being the challengers to the Tories this time. Week two here we come!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Crafty Lunch Break

Part of today's activities was lunch at the craft fair in Shepperton. Former Lib Dem Councillor Joan Ponton has run this for many years, and it is still going strong. After we had enjoyed our tea and rolls (and some cake for one or two!), I had a walk round the stalls, and talked about the many different skills employed in the crafts on offer. I confess to buying a lovely knitted cardigan for my daughter, and some other bits and pieces. The standard of work on show was impressive. Even though I was steering clear of chatting politics, many people there wanted to ask questions about the election, and it was a nice relaxed atmosphere to have a natter about the campaign. Having walked away with some kind words and great purchases, I'll certainly be back next time!

Shoe Leather

After the demo this morning in Lower Sunbury, it was off to Ashford for some doorstep politics. It is noticeable at this election that people are more clued up and ready to ask the tough questions than I have known at previous elections. The level of engagement is great, and candidates certainly need to have concrete policies to hand and not just bland statements. As the Lib Dems have a raft of policies for me to call on, and clear priorities that we want delivered by a new Parliament, it is fantastic to share and debate them with voters. I had many great chats today about issues ranging from the economy, tax, Runway Three, education and crime.The running theme is that many voters are choosing us in Spelthorne for the first time, and the message is that our national campaign and local hard work are paying off. There is still a long way to go, but we are clearly having a very positive impact.

Demonstrators Pack The Avenue

There was a brilliant turnout for the demonstration against the London Irish development proposals in The Avenue today. Several hundred Lower Sunbury residents showed exactly how they felt about a plan that is quite simply not welcomed by the majority of people locally. The demo was very good natured, and was a first for many of the residents I spoke to. It is they who would have to cope with the consequences of the development, and they who should be listened to. I hope that the councillors on the planning committee understand the strength of feeling here and reject the plans when they convene at Kempton Park on the 27th of this month.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Super Saturday

It looks like it's going to be a good weather day for campaigning tomorrow. We have a very full diary, and I hope we can make a big impact across Spelthorne. From the feedback we've had over the last few days, I know the local and national Lib Dem campaigns are appealing to a broad range of voters. Tomorrow will be a good gauge of what people think right around the constituency. Can't wait!

Bank Charges

Nick Clegg outlined the measures we would take to sort out unfair bank charges. It would mean a real difference to people in Spelthorne. Nick said “A Liberal Democrat government will legislate to ensure that no bank can charge its customers unfairly for going over their limit or bouncing a cheque. Banks should, of course, be able to pass on the costs they incur in dealing with these problems. But they should not be able to profiteer from customers making small mistakes. We will outlaw unfair charges from now on. Bank bosses should look to their consciences and give back the money they took from their customers in unfair charges. It can’t be right that someone who buys just a few items can end up being charged hundreds of pounds in unfair fees. I believe bank bosses have a moral obligation to pay that money back. If they had a shred of moral decency, they would never have imposed these charges and they would never have refused to pay them back. Together Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS have given out more than £7bn in bonuses in the last year alone. How can they refuse to return a few hundred pounds they wrongly took from people struggling to make ends meet from week to week?”

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Washed Up

The process of sorting out what legislation will still be passed after an election is called is called the 'wash up'. Basically the parties horse trade to agree what can and cannot get through. Despite claims from Labour and the Tories that they want to clean up and reform politics, they have chucked out some of the straightforward reforms that were due to be debated.
The Lib Dems said the two main parties had been in cahoots to dilute proposed reform of the House of Lords. Measures permitting peers to resign or be expelled and the repeal of restrictions on demonstrations outside Parliament were dropped, in addition to commitments to hold a referendum on the voting system and to phase out the remaining hereditary peers. Our retiring Justice spokesman David Howarth, who I campaigned alongside in 2005, said "The process of 'wash-up' is now washed up. The way in which the two front benches of the larger parties colluded and then got it wrong and ended up with this disaster is something they need to reflect on." Once more, after blocking Lib Dem attempts at many reforms from banning lobbying to making expenses transparent, we can see that the two old parties want to keep the cosy system and have no commitment to reform. Lib Dems will clean up our political system, and only us.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Knocking On Doors

Today we were out in Staines knocking on doors. During the election, you will hear countless politicians talking about what they heard 'on the doorstep'. I may even say it myself along the way. That's because there really is no substitute for hearing what local people think about the issues that matter to them. I was fortunate enough to have one of our Lib Dem MEPs for our area, Sharon Bowles, with us today. For those of you who don't yet know, Sharon is the Chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Sounds dull? Well, it's actually a very powerful position. Sharon is using the post to tackle parts of the world economic crisis. One of the key things she is doing right now? Tackling banker bonuses on a European wide scale. Watch this space, because it looks like her intervention may just bring them to book! So you can imagine I was delighted that she came to talk to residents today. We covered everything from Runway Three to, of course, the economy. Sharon was great, and people appreciated having their MEP face to face and happy to take up their concerns. We're having a great start to the campaign proper!

Watch Out For That Tree!

For the first time today I had a press photographer hopping backwards up the road in front of me, trying to get a shot of me campaigning in Staines. I can assure you that it is nigh on impossible to march purposefully up the road looking photogenic when all you can think is 'don't fall over that wall' or 'watch out for that tree!' Fortunately the member of the paparazzi (can I call him that when we were properly introduced and had a good chat about football?) was very nimble and had clearly developed a sixth sense for these things. Hopefuly that means he got a decent shot!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Telegraph

I was namechecked today in the Telegraph, who have run a piece on the London Irish proposals. They have listed me alongside the only other people opposed to the move. That is the residents association and the two local pressure groups. That would be local people then. It's a shame that they feel that the views of the RFU are more important than the views of the residents who will have to live with the consequences of over development if it is approved. I'll stick with the residents thanks!

And Away We Go

Finally we have an official date for the General Election on May 6th. Although the starting gun has been fired, some of us have been campaigning for a long time for this. I was selected 2 years ago, and have been campaigning here solidly since. Some of my opponents have been here rather less time, as in those 2 years I have seen the Tory MP step down due to the expenses scandal, and the Labour candidate simply disappear. Their replacements have barely had a sniff of what has been going on in Spelthorne and have had a lot of catching up to do. In terms of the big policy themes, we have been clear that we want fairer taxes, putting £700 in the pocket of the average worker. We want a fair start for children, investing in early years education. We want a sustainable economy, built on solid foundations and with the future of environment at its heart. We want to clean up politics, and reform the system from top to bottom. Politicians must be more accountable to the people. Over the next 30 days I will be taking this message with my colleagues across Spelthorne. I have campaigned in every corner of the constituency, and found support wherever I have been. So off we go, into the heat of a General Election campaign, with a great message and huge optimism about our chances of a fantastic result!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Sunday

I've sloped off to spend a day with the family today, and have been out with my daughter, partner and in-laws for an afternoon at an RSPB bird sanctuary. As members, it's great to go to one of their excellent sites and spend a few hours in the fresh air, arguing about what the bird actually was that you just saw. For the record we saw a Wheatear, some Swallows, Sand Martins, a Chiff Chaff and a host of others. It was good to relax a for a little while, but already I am back at the PC responding to emails and getting ready for next week. Still, it was a great afternoon!

Saturday, 3 April 2010


Lib Dems started a tongue in cheek campaign this week about the two old parties. Amalgamating the two, we have the Labservatives. As they have done a pretty good job of looking and sounding the same - tired and short of ideas - this is a fun way of raising a serious issue. For 65 years the government of our country has been handed from Labour to the Conservatives and back again like a game of pass the parcel. Red-blue, blue-red politics – and look what it has got us: corrupt politics, recession, inequality , time and again. They just take turns at making the same mistakes. It has to end. It’s the same story wherever you look: together David Cameron and Gordon Brown have blocked political reform, including our plan to allow people to sack corrupt MPs. The Labservatives compete to sound tough on crime instead of doing what works to actually catch criminals and stop them committing more crimes. And the Labservatives have made UK foreign policy subservient to the interests of the United States, from the illegal invasion of Iraq to the decision to waste £100bn on replacing, like for like, the cold war era Trident nuclear submarines. Only a vote for the Liberal Democrats will move us to a point where we can break up the old status quo and deliver fresh, exciting politics for a new century. To bring real change for the better vote Lib Dem!

From Russia With Love

Looking at the visitor data for this blog, it is apparent that I now have a regular visitor from Moscow. I have others from around the world, and I think I know who most of them are. My Muscovite regular is a mystery though, as I don't know anyone there at the moment, unless the person I know from Kazakhstan is staying there. So, whoever you are, pryvet!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Best For Business

Today we have set set out our plans for business. Launching ‘Enterprise in a Fair Society’, Nick Clegg set out details of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto pledges for business. The proposals include:
Restoring a public interest test for regulatory authorities to consider when takeovers are proposed and changing the rules on which shareholders can vote on takeover proposals
Ensuring affordable access to credit for businesses by creating new mechanisms to provide equity finance to smaller businesses
Incorporating a ‘sunset’ clause into every new business regulation so that it is time limited unless renewed by Parliament. The document also sets out how the Liberal Democrats would create an education system that provides skilled workers, a stable economy that reduces the public deficit and a fair and stable tax platform on which businesses can operate.Launching the document while visiting start-up businesses in Warrington, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said: “For too long, Labour and Conservative governments have focused solely on the firms in one square mile in the City of London, while failing to support businesses across the country. “The Government has failed to force the banks to lend to viable British businesses and won’t face up to the need to break up the big banks to protect the economy. “Who would have thought that when the taxpayer stepped in to rescue the banks, we would now be funding takeovers like that of Cadbury by Kraft? “The Liberal Democrats will stand up for strong British businesses by changing the takeover rules to protect them from the short-term speculation of hedge funds and restoring a public interest test.”

Monday, 29 March 2010

Cable Clear Winner Tonight

Vince Cable had a great evening tonight in the chancellor's debate on Channel 4. He clearly won with the studio audience judging by their reaction to his arguments. Also, he won in the online vote on the channel's website, with Osborne last. I know I am biased as a Lib Dem Candidate in the General Election, but I know that we have the best man on the economy leading our economic policy. The public think so too. Several polls have put Vince up front as the best person to be chancellor after the election. I think Vince has demonstrated tonight who should be in No 11 Downing Street in June. The way to get him there is to vote Lib Dem at the election. There is a chance of change at this election. You can vote for a change for the better, not for worse.

Channel 4 Tonight - Live Election Debate

Channel 4 have the 3 would be Chancellors in a live TV debate tonight at 8pm. Having failed to get a leaders debate, the channel have set up this fascinating event for a different angle. Some angle too. Vince Cable for the Lib Dems has warmed up for tonights verbal sparring with this comment on Tory proposals on tax:

"Unless they can say how they will realise these savings, the Tory proposals aren't worth the paper that they are written on"

said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor. Commenting on George Osborne's plans to block some of next year's planned National Insurance tax rises, Vince Cable said:

"This is school boy economics. When you have a £70bn permanent hole in the Government's finances you simply can't propose cutting tax revenue unless you spell out exactly how you are going to pay for it. The Tories say they are going to pay for a cut in National Insurance through 'efficiency savings', but haven't a first clue about how these savings are going to be realised. Unless they can say how they will realise these savings, the Tory proposals aren't worth the paper that they are written on. George Osborne has taken the Government's highly dubious efficiency plans and made them even less credible. Today's announcement is all about low politics not sound economics. If George Osborne seriously wants to be Chancellor it is time he put away childish things and produced a credible plan of how he would restore the health of the nation's finances."

I get the feeling this could be quite spicy tonight....

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Talk To People

We had a great day talking to the people in Staines today. The topics bring up are so varied, from the economy to Shortwood, the environment to sleaze. When we get in front of voters and explain our policies, we get such a good response, and today was no different. Voters deserve to speak directly to their representatives, and to challenge them on important issues. There was plenty of that today, and it is really enjoyable to put our case. After two years meeting local people, I still feel I have so much more I want to say, and more importantly I know there is much more I need to hear. We will be getting to all the communities of Spelthorne again over the next few weeks.

Friday, 26 March 2010

No More Runway?

Today campaigners won a judgement in the high court about the process of agreeing the third runway at Heathrow. Lord Justice Carnwath said the public consultation process used was invalid as it was based on out-of-date figures. The decision does not rule out a third runway but calls for government policy to be reviewed. This sets the whole process back a long way, and should mean that the Government abandon the plans. Gordon Brown and his ministers still insist they will plough on. This shows just how out of touch they are with the public, and that they simply will never listen to the other side of an argument. The third runway will bring misery to people in London and the South East, and now we can be clear that the economic arguments are deeply flawed as many of us have been saying for a long time. Can BAA finally get to the task in hand of improving the airport we already have, and focus on making it a world class facility. At the moment it is not one, even with terminal five working. If jobs are to be maintained in and around the airport their must be proper investment. We deserve a better Heathrow, we don't need a bigger one.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Social Housing

I had a good chat today with a resident who is having real difficulties with the local housing association. Having had six years experience as a district councillor, I am only too aware of the problems that can come from housing associations being remote, aloof and arrogant. The mechanisms that councillors have to hold them to account are weak. I would really like to see a better system in place for elected councillors to ensure good housing is delivered in their local area. When the stock was sold by many councils in the nineties, everyone hoped that this would improve things for local people. That simply isn't what they are saying to me. They want their MP to react to this issue and intercede on their behalf. As their MP I would do just that.

Tougher Than Thatcher

Chancellor Darling admitted tonight that the cuts Labour would make if they won the election would be tougher than those Margaret Thatcher instigated at the beginning of the eighties. Really that is not a surprise. The public finances are so deep in the red that the money from government is going to be hard to come by for several years. The surprise was that he responded at all to a link to Thatcher. Nobody wants to be associated with her failed economic model do they?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Labour and the Tories traded blows yesterday over the role of lobbying in our system of government, and about the payments some MPs take for their 'expertise'. At PMQ's today, Nick Clegg reminded Brown and Cameron about Lib Dem efforts to restrict lobbying and reform party funding. Both of the other parties blocked attempts at reform. Still they have the nerve to get upset at what has happened. You get the same rotten politics with either party. Only the Lib Dems are committed to root and branch reform of our politics.

Budget Response

Today, after rent-a-car ministers, we had the budget. With much of this already anounced in the pre budget report before Christmas, today saw a failed Government eeking out the last few spoonfuls of gruel it had to offer.
Vince Cable has responded to today's budget by saying "Today's budget wasn't honest.
The Chancellor is incapable of coming clean about where spending cuts will have to fall. Rather than being honest with people about what the Government can and cannot afford, the Chancellor would rather let others indiscriminately shave departmental budgets.
And the Budget did nothing to make Britain a fairer society.
We're campaigning for fair taxes, lifting millions of people out of income tax altogether. But today's Budget, by confirming the freeze in personal allowances, means everyone will see a real increase in their income tax bill.
Rather than forcing the nationalised banks to lend to good British businesses, Labour have chosen to create a feeble quango to arbitrate between bullying banks and their small business clients.
Today's Budget shows even more clearly that Britain needs real change."

See Vince's response on video here:

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Ivory Not For Sale

Great news yesterday. CITES, which is the convention that deals with the trade in endangered species, announced that they would not permit Zambia and Tanzania to sell their stockpiles of ivory. When these sales have gone ahead in the past, poaching has increased due to the higher interest in ivory. This is great news for international efforts to protect dwindling elephant populations. Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder, who represents us locally, had a campaign on this very issue, and her petition was part of 400,000 signatures that were submitted opposing the sale. She is delighted with the decision, and so am I!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Hand In The Till

Once again we find attention drawn to the sleazy antics of MPs. This time there are allegations of lobbying for large sums of cash levelled at three former Labour cabinet ministers. Two of them recently plotted to get rid of Gordon Brown. The third, Stephen Byers, has been filmed making overblown claims about his influence and importance. For three to five grand, he reckons he can change Government policy. What a sad end to this Parliament, where MPs who are standing down seem to be trying to milk every last drop of cash before they shuffle off into obscurity, grand plans to change the world replaced with self interest. The sooner the General Election clears out the greedy and elects some politicians with fire in their belly and a desire to shake up the status quo the better.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Anti Social

Talking to people yesterday in Halliford, one of the things that came up time and again was anti social behaviour and low level crime. By low level, I mean things like graffiti, damage to property and things like that. It is this sort of activity that really gets to people and causes untold strain and worry. The problem is, the police simply do not put the resources into it that they should. Their press releases pay lip service to dealing with the problem, but local folk say quite clearly that they feel let down. On the other side of things, young people are not all going around causing trouble, and those that are have too often been let down. Spelthorne has seen it's youth service from the County Council cut, and that has a real impact on this issue. Last week, Lib Dem conference passed a youth policy that is full of support for young people, to give them the opportunity to make a positive impact where they live rather than a negative one. If we don't have the tools to help young people, we shouldn't be surprised if they get bored and and get into bad habits. Let's give our youth something better to do, but impress on the police we expect them to act if they cause trouble.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Building Schools For The Future

This is a program Labour brought in to help local authorities keep up with capacity issues with schools, and also to improve facilities. Many areas have benefitted from this funding, which has been considerable. Surrey has just failed in its bid in the latest round of available funds. They will be able to re-apply, as areas of most need get the best chance at the cash. However, the application itself recognises the need for improving schools locally and dealing with future lack of capacity. In this context, it seems even more short sighted to consider closing Shortwood Infant School. Better organisation of the school catchment, improved transport and better promotion of schools like this one would help. It's good to hear though that the campaigners have generated so much interest in the school that they may generate a full intake in September. Amazing work!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Today I have been speaking or writing to residents about a wide range of issues, so I thought I'd mention it on here as a snapshot of the things raised by local people. I have, for example, been trying to reach a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator about CCTV and lighting in Stanwell, but we keep missing each other! I have written to a resident in Staines who asked me to outline our policy on Heathrow. I spoke to a person in Sunbury about A2 housing association. I emailed a lady about IFAW's manifesto for wild animals. That is just a sample of what has been going on today. It's great that when a General Election comes round, people take the opportunity to ask questions of their candidates and work out who is the best one for them. Today I think I gave three people an answer they were happy with, and one I know did not like what I had to say. But that is why we have elections - to let opinions be heard, and for people to exercise a right to choose who represents them. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


For the first time in ages, something was actually revealed at Prime Minister's Questions. Gordon Brown owned up to getting it wrong at the Iraq Inquiry. In fact, the central plank of his evidence was that he had raised spending on defence in real terms every year as chancellor. In fact for at least three years he didn't. Now, did he forget, did he make a mistake, or did he deliberately mislead the inquiry? Perhaps we should be generous and say he forgot. He was after all dealing with a lot of budgets. But fundamentally, Gordon has now undermined his role in the war. Looking at it from the troops point of view, they did not get the support of the man who is now Prime Minister. These are men and women who already get a raw deal, and deserve better pay and equipment. Lib Dems have pledged to raise the starting salary of an infantryman to that of a policeman starting out. It is only right and fair that those risking their lives for our country are given decent pay. But to send them to war and then reduce their funding, as Gordon did most certainly in 2004, is scandalous.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Gravy Train

The news today included revelations about pay offs for council chief executives. Average settlements for those leaving their posts in the last year have been over £250,000. This is on top of the huge salaries that they receive, in some cases over £200,000 a year. The claim is that councils need to pay top whack to get the best. Sadly, many pay top whack but still do not see improved performance. The rates of pay and the severence offered is far too high. It seems to me that as each authority offers a bigger chunk of taxpayers cash for the top job, the higher the next one needs to go to compete. This pay inflation has to stop, and councils need to get back to reality, and invest the money they get from taxpayers back into front line services where they do the most good. You need good people at the top, but that does not need to involve money like this.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Debt Reduction

Most of us know about debt, and the impact it has on us. And most of us would like to reduce our debt. The government has no choice. Whoever is in power after the election is going to have to make tough choices. We have already set out £15billion in cuts that we would start with, but crucially we would not cut this year, as we believe this will jeopardise the recovery. The Tories say they will give more detail after the budget, but have said they will cut now. Doing that risks sending the British economy into another deep recession. Listening to Vince Cable at the weekend, I am once again struck by the way he grasps the detail, but sees the bigger picture. The Tories have a shadow chancellor who seems to leave all the thinking to other people, and pops up with the soundbite. I know who I would trust with our economy.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Thanks Birmingham

We have had a great conference in Birmingham, and the folks here have looked after us really well. Lib Dems are leaving the conference with a sense of purpose, and some fire in our bellies, as we prepare for the rest of the campaign. The great thing about these events is you are reminded of the unity of purpose in our party. The other parties are riven with internal politics, and whilst I won't pretend there aren't fierce debates in our party, we work collectively and with a passion to make Britain better. That is why we leave invigourated and ready for the fight. With people like Nick and Vince leading us, we know we have an excellent team taking us forward.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Paddy And Shirley Storm The Stage

I'm sat here at the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham at lunchtime on saturday, and what a whirlwind it has been so far. I have managed to collar a few of our key campaigners and MPs for some advice on the key issues in Spelthorne. Their insight and knowledge has been invaluable, and I can come back with useful tips on how to help local people with the things that they have told me matter to them. I also went to the opening rally last night. We had some brilliant speakers, including Paddy Ashdown, who has not addressed the main conference hall since standing down as leader over a decade ago. To say he is still on form is an understatement. He articulated the great challenges facing our country, and world, with passion and insight. He spoke about the economic future, democracy, fair society and environment in a way that brought all the great issues of our age into sharp focus. Shirley Williams also spoke, and reminded us all how our party are needed more than ever as the party of social justice and fairness. Labour have failed and the Tories have always looked after their own. We have a vital role in this election, and these two venerable members of our party urged us to go out and meet the challenges that people face across the UK, and deliver a fairer, greener, more just society for all. I am, as ever, committed to doing all I can to deliver that for Spelthorne.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Conference Time

As I prepare for the Lib Dem spring conference, I am reminded that as a party we make our policy democratically with voting by representatives from all over the UK. I will be looking to get involved in our localism agenda, with more work being done this weekend on how to devolve as much power as possible to local people. I will also be picking up the young persons agenda, which Linda Jack and her task group have been working really hard at. Most of all I will be sounding out senior colleagues about issues affecting Spelthorne, like the Shortwood School proposals, anti social behaviour and getting the police working in the community. Local NHS issues and environment will get a good airing, so Norman Lamb and Simon Hughes better watch out, I want to bend their ears! I hope to bring support and advice back from conference, which will be very beneficial to Spelthorne. Despite several years experience, there is always so much to learn, and I will use the opportunity this weekend in Birmingham.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Not Taking The Mick

Great news this week that Stanwell Warden Mick Raynor is staying in his role, after Spelthorne Council backed down over its plans to axe him. This is a victory for local campaigners including one neighbourhood watch co-ordinator who also works really hard for the community, and recognises the need for people like Mick to work in our communities. As I said on this blog at the weekend, Stanwell needs a more co-ordinated effort by councils, police and others to overcome the anti social behaviour and crime issues in Stanwell. I will be speaking to the local community about the things they feel they need, and what they think is the way forward.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Beyond These Shores

Nick Clegg made a key speech today about foreign policy and Britain's relations with the rest of the world. He was keen to emphasise that whilst our friendship with the US is important, we need to take back decisions on foreign policy rather than blindly following the White House as we have for the last 50 years. He is right to point out that we need to cultivate good relationships across the globe independent of the US.
"Gordon Brown does not want to remind voters of the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq." Nick told the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
"David Cameron does not want to remind voters that he is friendless in Europe. The real truth is the future of British foreign policy is as much in the balance as the future of our economy or our political system."
History is littered with our foreign policy mistakes. Many of them we seem hell bent on repeating. We created Iraq after the first world war, and went back with troops twice more recently. Afganistan has been a 200 year obsession. It is time we started making pragmatic foreign policy decisions that will bring us a better standing in the world for the future.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Todays news has had lots of coverage of dangerous dogs. The last time politicians tried to tackle this subject was the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, which banned 4 specific breeds of dog including pitbull terriers. Now, after a string of high profile attacks, they are back in the news. The 1991 act was for want of a better phrase a dogs breakfast. It failed to understand the root of the problem, which is rarely the dog itself but the owner. Obviously, if the dog is a large dog bred to hunt or fight, it is much more dangerous than a small dog. But take a big dog and give it an owner that abuses it, or trains it to attack or intimidate, and you have a deadly weapon at large. One option floated today was the Dogbo, an order to control owners. That in itself is not the answer, but at least recognises where the heart of the problem lies. Other suggestions like compulsory insurance and microchips are also being mentioned. This time round, there needs to be much better consideration of the facts available, and not a knee jerk reaction that grabs headlines, but does nothing to protect the public. Dangerous dogs need to be dealt with, but much more so dangerous owners.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Obama's Healthcare Fight

President Obama is fighting hard in the US to improve healthcare for the millions of Americans who cannot get any sort of proper treatment. He faces a huge challenge from the Republican right who are vitriolically opposing the move. One of the tricks they have used is to wheel out Tory politicians from over here to say how awful our NHS is. On Saturday the Guardian reported the Young Britons' Foundation, which described the NHS as the 'biggest waste of money in the UK' has trained Tory party parliamentary candidates. Sadly, for all David Cameron's bluster about the NHS being his top priority, many in his party clearly still believe that the NHS is undesirable, and would happily organise its demise. The NHS is not perfect - in fact it needs an overhaul. Certainly there needs to be much more local control, and money invested in treatment rather than quangos. But it is a vital part of our welfare state. Lib Dem policies would help rejuvenate the NHS. Too many Tories are stuck in the 19th century and would scrap it.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Fine Dining

Last night we had the our annual dinner in Shepperton. We were delighted to have Catherine Bearder MEP, who was elected for the first time in June, as our guest speaker. She has really hit the ground running, and is already making a fantastic contribution on behalf of people in the south east. She has alos been involved in talks trying to prevent CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) from lifting its ban on the sale of ivory stockpiles in Tanzania and Zambia. Last time this was allowed, the argument being it brings much needed funds to the countries involved, the interest in ivory rocketed and poaching increased hugely. Elephant populations are still under threat, so Catherine has a petition running here : . We had an excellent night, full of positive talk of the election ahead. It is clear that Lib Dems in Spelthorne are up for the fight, and are confident of a great result on polling day. Our thanks go to the Anchor in Shepperton who looked after us superbly.

Neighbourhood Watch

Yesterday morning we were out and about in Stanwell. We spent some time at the Clare Road shopping parade talking to locals and getting more signatures for my bankers petition. Interestingly, quite a few knew about their Labour councillors decision to run for MP in Swindon. They took this to mean that even he knows Labour are a busted flush in Spelthorne! I also went to visit a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator, who told me about some of the issues they have in Stanwell with crime and anti social behaviour. The message I got was of a lack of joint working with the police and local councils. The area used to be covered by the Metropolitan Police, but since it has been dealt with by Surrey, there is a feeling that they don't give Spelthorne any sort of priority. When residents in Stanwell are told they are covered at time by police not even based in the borough, and who take an hour to reach them, it is no wonder they have no faith in the kind of response they get. There are problems in Stanwell, and they will only be tackled if the area is given the backup of the police and other agencies. There is obviously enough support from local people, but they shouldn't be left to do it alone.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Ashford College Reprieve

It's great to see the banners up on Ashford College, as I did today, proclaiming it's staying open. When I was going round all the shops in the town centre asking them to take the petition to keep it open, there was not one that said no. Even places like banks were happy to get customers to sign. The whole community was up for the fight. Fortunately it now seems like a fight is not needed. Ashford campus is a vital community facility, and now can continue to deliver valued education to Spelthorne.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

No New Answers On Shortwood

There was another public meeting tonight on the future of Shortwood infant school. As with the previous meetings, the school was packed to the rafters, and this time the parents and residents were more prepared, having had time to gather more information. The questions were superb, to the point, directly relevant, challenging and well delivered. The answers from the Council representatives were not. Despite having had 3 weeks since the last meetings to gather information that had been promised, and to cover key points of residents questions, there was nothing new tonight. With the consultation running until the 19th March, there is still time for local people to get there views heard. Then the officers of the Council will make a recommendation, and the Cabinet of Surrey, made up of councillors, will make there choice. With the man in charge of the education portfolio saying today Surrey faces huge pressures on places, and will need to build more schools, it seems that the first port of call should be to use all the places currently available, and then build as necessary. Closing Shortwood must be crazy in this context. A school that is working well will surely be able to gather more pupils with the campaigners committed to bringing numbers up.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Michael Foot

It was with great sadness that I learned about the death of Michael Foot today. He was one of the first politicians I can remember in my formative years. What I found out later was much more about a man passionate in his beliefs, true to them, and tireless in his campaigning. Whilst his politics are different to mine, he was a man of powerful argument and conviction. All of us standing in this General Election can learn lessons from his example. To hear some of his speeches played back today, you wonder whether the next Parliament will have many speakers who could silence the commons, or bring the place down with laughter in the way that he could. To this 'inveterate peacemonger' (as he described himself), goodbye and thank you.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Leaders Debates

Agreement has finally been reached on the televised leaders debates that will take place during the General Election. Pundits on the box tonight have been suggesting that of the three leaders, Nick Clegg has the least to lose. Certainly it gives our message a level of exposure that it may not otherwise have got. We know from previous elections that Lib Dem policies go down well when people get to hear more about them, because as we get some airtime in elections, our poll figures increase and we experience a bounce by election day. But I would say we have most to gain from the debates, rather than having nothing to lose. As a party we are united and proud of what we stand for. We want a free, fair society, and don't believe that is what you get from Labour or the Tories. We have well thought out, fully costed policies, and the debates will let Nick promote them. So I think this is a positive move for elections in this country, and it will be fascinating to see how they pan out.

Non Dom

I'm not going to have a huge rant about Lord Ashcroft sitting in the Lords, funding the Tories and making sure he doesn't have to pay tax in the UK on his earnings abroad. The point, I think, of making such a fuss is that at the moment it is too easy to buy seats in the House of Commons by chucking huge amounts of money at a campaign in a constituency. If you are able to seriously outspend your opponent you can influence the outcome of who becomes MP. Lord Ashcroft can do that with his wealth. So can others. Ultimately we need to move away from this if we want to restore faith in politics.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Nick Clegg And Our Education Pledge

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has today set out in more detail our education pledge, and emphasised the importance of early years education in tackling inequality, in a speech to the Salvation Army. Committing the Liberal Democrats to invest an extra £2.5bn in schools, Nick Clegg said that parents and schools must work together to make sure that children get the best possible start in life. Education is at the heart of our manifesto for the election, and we believe that bringing down class sizes for early years education should be at the very top of the agenda for the next Parliament. Having seen for myself the kind of school you get with smaller class sizes at Shortwood, I know it can't come soon enough.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Tories Falter In The Polls

This weekend should have been about preparing to take power for the Tories. Or so political commentators would have had us believe for much of last year. Yet as the General Election looms, support for the Tories is faltering as the electorate take a really good look at the parties in the run up to a vote in the next few months. It seems that they don't like what they see in the Tories. Or at least have discovered that there is actually not much to see at all. Even this close to an election, they talk about 'themes', but have remarkably few policies to back these up. The Liberal Democrats have laid out a series of clear policies already, on the NHS, Education, Crime and the Police, Tax, the Economy and the Environment. We are proud of what we stand for, and want a fairer Britain for all, not just the privileged few. We also won't just stand by whilst Labour erodes our freedom. The radical, bold party in this election is the Lib Dems. If you want change, that's the place to put your X in the polling booth.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Cable On The Growth Figures

Vince Cable has given his verdict on the revised growth figures for the economy:
"With the Government stimulus largely coming to an end last December it is highly likely growth will continue to be weak for some time," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor.
Responding to the news that the UK economy grew by 0.3% in the final three months of last year, faster than had been previously estimated, Vince Cable said:“While it is welcome news that the economy has grown by more than had been previously estimated, the British economy is still weak. “This news underlines again the folly of rushing into rapid cuts which could push the economy back into recession and inflict further structural damage on the UK, making it harder to sustain our credit rating and creating an even larger budget deficit. “Decisions about the speed and timing of tackling the deficit should be based on the state of the economy, not political dogma. “If the public and markets are to have confidence in the political parties, Labour and the Tories must follow the Liberal Democrat lead and demonstrate a credible plan for when and how the deficit will be tackled and where the cuts will come from.”

Friday, 26 February 2010

Dubious MI5

Lord Neuberger, the judge looking at the case of Quantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, said today that MI5 has a dubious record over his treatment whilst in US custody. Claims about his treatment include being deprived of sleep, threatened, shackled and having his genitals cut. The judge ruled that MI5 knew about at least some of this whilst he was held, and did nothing. Gordon Brown has given his full support to MI5 tonight. Yet despite the protestations of ministers and the MI5 chief, they appear to be complicit in the torture of a suspect. The treatment this man recieved was dreadful. There is simply no way to justify it. He was not starring in an episode of '24'. This is his life, and he was held without trial for nearly seven years, shipped from Pakistan to Morocco then to Afganistan. Finally he made it to Guantanamo Bay. This sorry episode simply drags us down to the level of our foes. Defending freedom 'by any means necessary' denies that very freedom. Labour have been stealing our freedom a piece at a time for years. Add this to the list. We need to be alert to the threats to our country, and we need to give the security services the tools to keep us safe. Condoning torture is not part of the deal.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Save Our School (But Not Our Planet)

I attended the meeting of Spelthorne Borough Council tonight, in large part because residents from both ends of the borough were there to have their voices heard. People opposing the ill judged London Irish proposed development asked a series of excellent questions about planning policy, and gave councillors plenty to think about. Then campaigners working to save Shortwood School had their 3 minutes to tell the borough councillors why the school is so important to the community. The speech was excellent, and I thought it was a shame that a bit more time wasn't given when the 3 minutes was up. The campaign will now need to gear up for another public meeting on the 4th March, and then on to the county council. Then we had the budget setting for 2010, and a round of deep cuts from the Tory administration. After years of failing to manage a budget deficit (ring any bells?) they now have to remove staff from areas like planning, where they already perform poorly. In response to one of our Group Leaders comments about not signing up to the 10:10 campaign, where organisations including councils can pledge to cut CO2 emissions by 10% this year, we had the usual response from a Tory. Lib Dems had tabled a motion last year to join the campaign, only for the Tories to block it. Well, with one of their number once again trotting out the "there is no proof the climate change exists" it's no surprise. If that councillor ever bothered to look beyond the end of his nose at the wealth of scientific proof that exists, and thinks for one solitary second about the wider world, he would know the threat we face. But once again we see the true face of the Tories on the environment.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Why Did No One Speak Out?

The tales of misery that have been told to the inquiry into Mid Staffs NHS Trust beggar belief. Patients have been humiliated, uncared for, left hungry and in enormous pain. This is one of the worst scandals to hit the NHS in its history. Yet, why did no one speak out. How did inspectors miss what was going on? I certainly can't understand why consultants, who would have seen exactly how things were, just carried on doing their rounds and then left to carry on their private work without once raising the alarm. Their must be a public inquiry to give the families the whole truth. For the Health Secretary to deny one would be another scandal.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Forces Of Hell

Alistair Darling said today that after talking about the worst recession in 60 years in the autumn of 2008, he faced the 'forces of hell'. He was referring to Labour devils as well as Tory ones, as parts of his own party turned against him. Politics is a tough old game, especially when it's your own side gunning for you. Mr Darling had a rare moment of candour, and paid for it with sniping and backstabbing, savaged by what are often called 'insiders'. By the very name, you can tell these are people who lurk in the shadows, without the stomach to deal with the public. Sadly, such 'insiders' often have influence beyond their talents. Such was the case this time, with Damien McBride ousted soon after. I hope that incidents like this diminish the role of the 'insider' and decisions at the highest level are made once more by those elected to take them.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Lib Dems On Health

Today Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg launched our manifesto pledge for health.
Our first priority will be protecting frontline care in tough financial times in areas such as cancer care, mental health treatment, maternity services and dementia treatment by cutting waste and bureaucracy. We will also give patients more control over their treatment, by radically cutting central spending at the Department of Health and electing Health Boards to make key decisions about local services. And under the Liberal Democrats if patients do not get treated on time by the NHS we will pay for them to be treated privately.
We are also showing our commitment to carers in England. We believe that people who selflessly provide care to their loved ones deserve a break. If you are in employment you are entitled to paid holidays but for a huge number of carers that simply isn’t an option. We believe that respite care is a lifeline - not just for carers but for whole families. That’s why we will provide a week’s break from caring every year to the 1 million unpaid carers who provide more than 50hrs care each week.
Getting healthcare right is hugely important to all of us. Only our party has the values and principles that can deliver the NHS our country deserves.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Blast From The Past

I have had a friend request on Facebook today from Neil, who was my old group leader when I became a councillor seven years ago. Neil was one of the two people who interviewed me as a council candidate after I called the party to offer my services. With great insight (!) Neil was enthusiastic about my application, and 4 months later I had been elected in a ward in which I was supposed to be the token opposition. From that day he, like a few others, took me under his wing and taught me a great deal about local politics. He showed me how to really get things done, particularly dealing with local councils, and showed me how to get through the beauraucratic maze. I went on to chair the councils scrutiny committee, and I ended up on the shadow executive that helped to create a brand new unitary authority (when Borough and County councils are joined together). Having the ability and experience to tackle these huge jobs was in good part down to Neil and his support. It is good to hear Neil and Amy have retired to Norfolk, and hopefully they have a bit more time now to relax and enjoy it! I owe Neil a great deal, so hopefully I can catch up with him after the election.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

So Much Development

I spent most of this morning checking out the state of play on current and future development in Spelthorne. The new Benwell building is an imposing piece of over development. I can see why it has upset so many residents. I went down to London Irish and Hazelwood too, which as I have been saying since September on this blog, is far too much development for the areas proposed. Even with the changes, there are too many units and ar ethe carrots on offer realistic? I suspect not. Too much open space will be lost to these plans. I also spent time at the Charlton waste site, which is the proposed home of a new Eco Park. The technology of this is sound, but is this the right site? British Airways are looking to do something similar to produce bio fuels for their city of London airport fleet. Have Surrey discussed the option of sharing the facility they plan to build in Kent? If not why not? Anyway, to see the constant pressure that development puts on Spelthorne is painful, but with the Tory Borough Council allowing so many of these things through, it is set to continue.

A Night In Playbox

I was at a meeting tonight of the campaign to save Shortwood Infants School and Playbox playgroup. Tonight there were parliamentary candidates, county and borough councillors as well as parents, support staff and governors. This is a testament to how quickly the campaign has been mobilised and how hard the campaigners are working. Lots of ideas were exchanged, as well as a plan for the next 4 years for the school to grow it's numbers and build stability for the future. There are still questions for the council to answer as I said before, but key is to keep engaging the local community and keep up the pressure. The publicity has started really well, but the story needs to stay fresh for the media to keep running on it. I think that the ideas we shared tonight will help move things forward. I have a commitment from our county councillors to carry on providing information that can be useful to the campaign, and I hope to help with campaigning experience too, although frankly this group of people are doing a fantastic job already!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Why Won't They Join In?

First, the Tories refuse to join in the conference today which was designed to try again to find some common ground on care for the elderly. Now, they have refused to even look at the plans being drawn up for a high speed rail link up the spine of the UK. The thing is, they are forever moaning about not knowing what is going on in Whitehall. Yet, now they have the chance to be involved at the early stages of two major issues, but won't. With an election coming up all the parties will be cautious about how they interact with each other, particularly with the possibility of a hung parliament. But this really is ridiculous. They claim that the health issue has become a party political football, but they made it that way by bailing out of informal talks with the health secretary and our Norman Lamb. Now they say much the same about the railways. As our transport spokesman said today "This peculiar decision of the Tories coupled with Osborne's spending cuts strongly suggest that the Tories are trying to kick high-speed rail into the long grass. The Tories can't be trusted with our railways." If they are trying to cut a pledge they have made for genuine economic reasons why not just say so?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Shortwood - There Are Questions To Answer

The consultation on the proposed closure of Shortwood Infant School continues. The document produced by the County Council to inform the debate on the schools future seems a very flimsy article, when you consider it effectively puts the case for closure. What it does do is repeatedly suggest that the school's educational performance may get worse in the future. At the public meeting, council officers repeatedly said they were not criticising the education provided. But the consultation says things like "we are concerned about the quality of education that may be provided in future to the children at the school". There are other parts of the document that cast the same aspersions. So not attacking the education today, but innuendo about the performance tomorrow. This is crude and unneccesary. There are a number of other questions that I will be suggesting are put to the council too. Current capacity, birth rates, transport, new building and Government policy all seem to add weight to the argument to keep the school open. But all these subjects need questioning in detail to get to the facts, not just a 3 page proposal from the County Council.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

First Time Voters

The BBC is holding a special Question Time on the 3rd March for first time voters. Hosted by Dermot O'Leary, it will be on BBC, and will give the audience a chance to grill politicians about the forthcoming election. Anyone who is a first time voter can apply here: . It is being recorded in London, so hopefully some local people will apply and get to fire a searching question to the panel!

Monday, 15 February 2010

5 Years

Today we were told that it may take 5 years to get our money back from the bailout of the banks. UKFI, who look after our interests in the banks on behalf of the Government, play their cards close to their chest (i.e. tattooed on), and then come out with that figure. This organisation needs to be opened up to proper scrutiny, as they are managing billions of pounds of our investment. They have offered to talk to MP's about what they do twice a year. As a concession. This is absurd. UKFI shoud be fully answerable to taxpayers, and MP's should have access to what they are up to. To offer ana occasional update as if it was up to them how they conduct themselves inspires no confidence at all. Vince Cable warned today that it may take a decade to realise our investment, as has been seen elsewhere in the past. So we need honest, clear answers from UKFI, and a proper say in what they, and our banks are doing with our money.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A Quarter Of A Billion

That's the amount of money spent last year on publicity by the Government. Clearly there is a need for significant spending on this area to ensure people know about and get good access to services they need. However, for the spending to rise by 40% last year in the midst of a financial crisis is bad management and bad judgment. Money can be saved by the Treasury if advertising is done correctly, but so much extra spending right now is surely folly.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Time For Action From Eurostar

Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has been closely following the inquiry following the Eurostar fiasco at Christmas. After the final report was published yesterday she said:
"We need a promise of fair treatment for all Christmas passengers and safe travel for all future passengers."
"That means implementing all of the Review's recommendations, putting in place the safety, technical and staff training measures required and guaranteeing that the costs of compensation and new safety measures will not be passed on to consumers through higher prices."
"The independent review has done a fine job, but their plans must be put into practice."

Hopefully now fundamental changes will be made and local people can go back to using Eurostar with confidence.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Facts And Figures

I have been at a meeting with my County Council colleagues tonight discussing the threat of Shortwood Infant School's closure . We are pulling together as much information as we can to pass on to the campaigners there. There are so many factors that need to be included in this consultation that seem to be missing from the council's document, so it's vital to get as much info into the public domain as possible to inform the debate. We'll be working on this some more over the weekend.

Caring For Our Elderly

It is dispiriting to see the spat between Labour and the Tories over long term care for the elderly. All parties know that this is a massive issue for our country, and is in crisis now, let alone the projections of requirements for the future. Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem Health Spokesman, is still trying to get all 3 parties speaking again, as they had been until last week. I've known Norman for 4 years, and he is a man of enormous integrity and has a passion for his role. I know this subject is really important to him, like better provision for mental health care is too. I hope he can pull the other two parties back to the table. I'm at a disability event with him next month, so perhaps I can extract more detail on what's been going on. Watch this space....

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Shortwood Infant School

Surrey County Council have announced potential plans to close Shortwood School. There were two public meetings at the school today, and I went along to the second one this evening. I don't think I have seen many more passionate defences of a community facility than I heard from local people tonight. Whilst the school has low numbers of pupils, it was clear that parents think the school is fantastic, as do the ex pupils, ex teachers and other local residents who had their say. The overwhelming feeling is that they have not had the support, publicity or understanding of the County Council, and that many people only heard about the school by word of mouth. Many also feel that long standing rumours of closure have put people off making the school their 1st preference. Talking afterwards to the acting head, and other campaigners, it was clear that they will defend the school and fight closure all the way. The community love this school and value it dearly. Councils have a tough job balancing needs and budgets, but their own figures show, to my mind, that short term desire to close the school will cause real problems in the near future, over and above the hardship some parents will face now if the school closes. After tonight they have my wholehearted support.

Monday, 8 February 2010


Whatever happens now with the legal proceedings against 3 Labour MP's and a Tory peer, I sincerely hope that Parliamentary privilege is not allowed as a defence. This was enacted in 1689 to allow MP's to say what they wish in the 2 houses without fear of being sued. It is to help get at the truth when the powerful could use their wealth and status to stop dissent and scrutiny. It is not for evading criminal proceedings when a crime is suspected. I hope sense prevails one way or another.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Tories To Centralise Powers

The Tories have made much of their localism agenda. I have said before on this blog that they are paying lip service to it, and have no real idea of what localism means, as they have an inbuilt desire to wield power rather than share it. Once again they have shown this is exactly what they are about. The Government passed a disgraceful bill last year to centralise decision making around large planning applications, for example Heathrow Runway Three, and cut local councils and local people out of the loop as much as possible. The Lib Dems were horrified at this, and opposed the move. The Tories are now going to do the same with school planning applications. Far from passing power to local people, they are grabbing it back to Westminster, just as they always do. These crucial decisions should be taken at a local level, not in Whitehall. We have seen how regional planning has misunderstood local needs and issues, like the recent south east plan, which was dreadful. Central Government is even more remote for this type of issue, and will doubtless get many decisions wrong. But the Tories are once again mouthing the words of one song whilst singing another behind closed doors. You can't trust them on planning - just look at Spelthorne!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Bankers Petition

We had a really good morning on Staines High Street with our new bankers petition. We are calling on the Chancellor to put a 10% levy on bank profits, break up banks to separate the casino (risk taking) operations from the high street banks, and close tax loop holes for the very rich. We asked local shoppers whether they would support the petition, and the response was excellent. What we found this morning was that people were all set to rush to M&S, but mention the banks and they stopped to talk. This is clearly an issue that won't go away, and the anger is still there. Vince Cable has led this debate from the beginning, and again today people were full of praise for him. We may well do this again before I send the petition off to Alistair Darling. One little aside: we chatted to a long time Labour campaigner who said they were supposed to be campainging this morning in the same place, but he was the only one there. Even their candidate had not shown up! It really is a 2 horse race in Spelthorne!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Policing Plans

Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne launched our manifesto plans for policing today. We have pledged to put 3000 more police on the beat by scrapping the ID Cards scheme and using the money to put more officers on the beat. It would have been 10000 if Labour had not already wasted so much money setting up the now laughable "voluntary" ID Card Scheme! Amazingly, 18 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales have seen a reduction of police numbers since 2005. Two thirds of them are run by the Conservatives, and a third by Labour. Whilst both of them try to out tough each other on crime, the reality is they have both failed to support our police force. In Surrey, no local Tory MP bothered to vote on the capping of the police budget. Lib Dem MP's in South West London like Vince Cable did, and voted not to cap the authority. Actions speak louder than words, however tough the rhetoric!


The Government have produced a green paper in Parliament setting the scene for a defence review after the next election. Britain faces some big decisions about what our role is on the world stage in the future, and how we see our role of the armed forces in particular. The review looks like it will look at all aspects of our defence capability with one exception. Trident has been ringfenced, and there will be no review of our nuclear capability, despite the enormous amount of money that will be spent replacing Trident. If the Government is serious about reviewing our defence capability, it must look at the viability of funding the UK's nuclear deterrent. With tens of billions of pounds at stake, no serious review would be complete without an honest assessment of its viability.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Back on the Campaign Trail

Now that Evie has settled at home (my lovely daughter!), I am back in full swing on the campaign trail. Quite a lot has been happening since I battled through the snow to get to the hospital. Tony Blair has suggested we invade Iran. Gordon Brown has suggested changing the voting system. David Cameron has talked about big cuts/some cuts/ only a few cuts (delete as applicable depending on poll out that day). Nick Clegg has put forward more details of our plans to give every child a fair chance at a good education. Plenty for me to blog on by the weekend then!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Nick Clegg Launches Our Campaign

Nick Clegg is this morning setting out our key messages for the general election campaign. He is outlining what our priorities are and what we stand for. The Liberal Democrats are different because we’re the only party that believes in fairness: we’ll bring change that works for you, instead of just those at the top.

Our four key pledges to deliver a fairer society are:

Fair Taxes: We will make the first £10,000 you earn tax-free. People earning £10,000 or less will not pay any income tax and those on the basic rate of tax will have a tax cut of £700 per year. We’ll pay for it by making sure the rich pay their fair share by introducing a mansion tax on the value of homes over £2m, by taxing income and capital gains at the same rate, and switching tax from income to pollution.

A fair start for all our children: We will cut class sizes and give every child a fair start in life by introducing a pupil premium. This will provide an extra £2.5 billion to our schools allocated according to the number of disadvantaged pupils on their rolls. It will allow schools to reduce class sizes, recruit more teachers to improve discipline and provide more one-to-one tuition to help pupils who are struggling. This will be paid for by stopping tax credits for higher earners and scrapping Labour gimmicks in the Department for Education.

A fair and sustainable economy that creates jobs: We will make Britain the world leader in the green economy - investing to create tens thousands of new jobs that last. We will use at least £3.5 billion of savings that we have identified from current expenditure in the first year of a new government to invest in public transport, a national programme of home insulation and new social housing. Our nation’s finances need to be sustainable too - we will be honest about where savings must be made to balance the books and will break up the banking system to ensure financial gambling can never again bring our economy to its needs.

Fair, transparent and more local politics: We will introduce a fair voting system to end safe seats so all MPs listen to people; we will ensure MPs can be sacked by their voters if they break the rules; we will return powers to local councils and local communities so they can take more decisions that affect their local areas and we will stop tax avoiders from standing for parliament, sitting in the House of Lords or donating to political parties.

We also have the following commitments:

· Protect NHS services from cuts: Paid for by diverting planned efficiency savings to frontline services like cancer care, dementia, and mental health. Unlike the other parties our detailed deficit reduction plans also mean that we will be able to avoid unplanned cuts.

· Recruit 3,000 more police officers to keep our streets safe: Paid for by scrapping the ID card scheme.

· Scrap student tuition fees to reduce burden of student debt immediately and eliminate it within 6 years: Paid for by stopping unnecessary spending across government including abolishing the Government Offices of the Regions.

· A pay rise for our brave service men and women: Paid for by cutting back on senior bureaucrats in the MoD.

· Uprate the basic state pension in line with earnings immediately: so that pensioners do not continue to fall behind earnings when the economy starts to grow again.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Waiting on a New Arrival

Sarah and I are on tenterhooks now awaiting the arrival of our first child. We don't even know if it's a boy or a girl, which makes it even more exciting (if that were possible!). As baby is due now it could be any day.....

It's a Question of Cuts

We've already heard a lot about cuts in spending in the aftermath of the deep recession we now seem to be tip-toeing out of. We've also heard about budgets that are protected, talk of investment, and priorities. What we need to see now is exactly what the priorities are and where the cuts will come. That is going to be key for people in the coming election. We have spoken already about making the tax system fairer, supporting early years education. We've pledged to cut big ticket expediture like the replacement to Trident, as well as reforming and shrinking Government. I think we will only finally see what each party will cut or support when the manifestos are published, although any party that tries to fudge it will come a cropper at the election.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Trouble With Salt

So, local authorities are being asked to cut their salting of the roads by 25%? The Tories have said that this means the Government are guilty of an 'astonishing failure'. Balance that with the fact that, in Surrey for example, roads except the motorways and major trunk roads are the responsibility of the County Council. Who runs Surrey County Council? The Tories. Who said in March this year that they learnt the lessons of the February snow? The Tories. Who is guilty of an 'astonishing failure' this time in Surrey? Answers on a postcard please!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Infamy, Infamy........

...they've all got it in for me! Astonishing news today from Westminster as former Cabinet Ministers Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt call for a secret ballot to decide on Gordon Brown's future. Will it happen? Early signs are that it probably won't, although the hush from several big hitters is surprising. So far only Alan Johnson seems to have given full support to the PM. This is a bizzare early twist to a General Election campaign that is already unofficially in full swing. Frankly it looks clumsy and remarkably stupid from a Labour point of view. Under these circumstances you have to say that again we have a Government not governing, but turning in on itself. We cannot afford that at the best of times, but certainly not now. Time for a General Election? Well, if Labour cannot keep its house in order then the answer is yes. The economic recovery is so fragile that this sort of uncertainty could be very damaging. Gordon is fast running out of time here, and an Election may be the only way for the country to move on, whatever the outcome, and forge a more sustainable drive out of recession.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Still Waiting

Well, David Cameron has launched his General Election campaign by telling us? Well, not much. It looks like his 'age of austerity' has been elbowed aside, as it risked telling voters a little too much about how savage the cuts will be if the Tories win power. So we had 'optimism' cautiously inserted in it's place. The trouble is, that is all we have really been given. We will have a General Election in the next few months, but over 4 years after he took over, we still don't know what Cameron would ACTUALLY DO. I assume that he knows but just can't bring himself to spill the beans as they are unpaletable. The Lib Dems have given strong positive policies for the public to inspect and decide on for a long time. We are not afraid to be judged on our values and policies. With the discredited MP standing down this time, people will get a change, and have the chance to vote Lib Dem knowing what we stand for politically, and that I have pledged to be utterly open and transparent about expenses, and crucially, what I actually do in the constituency and in Parliamnent. If you check the record of the current MP at you wil find out that in his case it has been 'not a lot' lately...........